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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Pet Care Library > Articles > Fancy Rat

Fancy Rat


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Traits & behavior

Fancy rats can be kept individually or in same-gender groups (to prevent breeding). When keeping male rats together, keep an eye on them as it's possible for them to become territorial and aggressive as they mature. Fancy rats also enjoy human interaction.

They are the smartest of all small pets, and can learn their names and simple tricks.

Calm, curious and fun-loving, fancy rats love to play and interact with their Pet Parents.

You'll notice your fancy rat grooming herself a lot while she's awake.

Things to remember

Lifting & handling
It's very important to handle your rat gently. Let her become aware of your hand, then hold her gently yet firmly around the chest, and support her back feet with your other hand. Never pick her up by the tail.

Fancy rats have limited vision, and rely on their keen senses of smell and hearing to perceive their world.

Special needs
Fancy rats have front teeth that never stop growing -- so they need lots of healthy things to chew on like treat sticks.

Your rat will run on a wheel in her habitat. To protect her tail, make sure it's a solid surface wheel.

Safety & cleanliness
Please remember that all pets may bite or scratch, and may transmit disease to humans. Keep your pet's home clean and wash your hands before and after handling your pet or cleaning his home. Infants, young children, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems, and the infirm or elderly are at greater risk of infections and should use caution when in contact with the pet or its habitat. Consult your doctor for more information.


Staple diet
Choose a fortified diet appropriate for fancy rats. Fill the bowl approximately 3/4 full.

One tablespoon of chopped raw veggies like broccoli, kale, carrots or cooked sweet potatoes may be given daily. Take care not to overfeed these fresh foods. They have a high moisture content and too much can cause an upset stomach.

Treat your rat to finely chopped pieces (about one tablespoon) of grapes, apple, banana or melon twice a week.

Treat sticks & chews
These hard and crunchy treats keep your pet's front teeth trimmed -- always keep one in the habitat.

Change and fill your rats water bottle with clean water every day.

*Remember that fresh food items require their own dish and should be removed from the habitat after four hours to prevent spoilage. Treats should be less than 10% of total food intake.


Signs of a healthy fancy rat:

  • Clean, bright eyes
  • Smooth coat with no bare patches
  • Clean ears with no redness
  • Eats and drinks normally
  • Normal, well-formed droppings

Things to watch for:

  • Cloudy, sunken or swollen eyes
  • Overgrown front teeth
  • Bare patches in the fur
  • Diarrhea or discolored droppings for longer than two days
  • Hunched posture
  • Weight loss; not eating or drinking normally
  • Labored breathing; sneezing; discharge from the eyes, nose or mouth

If you notice any of the signs described above, please consult a Small Animal Veterinarian as soon as possible.


Your fancy rat needs a well-ventilated wire home with a solid floor. It should be large enough for a food dish and water bottle, a hiding house and climbing toys. There should be plenty of room for all cage accessories, and for her to move around freely. Minimum cage size is 24"L x 12"W x 12"H (61 cm x 31 cm x 31 cm).

Line the cage floor with approximately one inch of aspen or other appropriate bedding. Change it once a week or more often if needed.

Cage placement
Place the habitat in a cool, low humidity area, out of direct sunlight.

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